Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Florence, Part 4

We had such an early morning!  We were very tired, but we really enjoyed our train ride.  It was beautiful, and we were so proud of ourselves for actually catching our train!  

Stop #1
Arrival + walk through the City
Florence was gorgeous.  Walking through the streets was absolutely delightful.  It was a lot less busy than Rome, and really artsy.  The river front was incrediable.  Such a perfect European town.
Mr. H always had his head in the maps of the city we were in---I loved capturing shots of him in his 'mode'

We definately had gelato and waffles at like 8 in the morning---but it looked too good to resist.

Stop #2
Walk (more like HIKE) to San Meneto
It was a very steep climb to get here, but so worth it.  The streets were beautiful.  Once we reached the church, the views were Amazing!  The church was pretty and it had a cool graveyard. On our way back down we stopped by the Plaza de Michelangelo.  It was okay, but the San Meneto had far better views.  We also walked through some rose gardens which were lovely.

You can see the church we hiked up to at the very top!
Stop #3 Piazza w/the free David
The statues here were really neat.  It was cool they were all just lying around.  We ate lunch and learned some more things about Michelangelo.  

Stop #4 the Duomo
Wow.  This was such an amazing sight.  It was so different, and it was HUGE.  It was so cool to see it all.  I really wanted to go inside, but the lines were too long and for our time we decided to wander around and soak it all in.  I sketched at the Santa Maria Novella and we then caught our train!

Orange Trees everywhere-beautiful!

Stop #5 Interlaken
We got our trains, and had a couple of close calls with our tickets but we finally arrived.  The train ride was GORGEOUS!  Interlaken marked the beginning of our hostel stays.  The one we stayed at here was ok----it was super weird for me to share a bedroom with complete strangers.  I got super nervous for the next three days, and Mr. H had a panic attack that we couldn't speak German. :)

Rome Italy, Part 3

We started this morning very early and took the metro to Vatican city.  
Stop #1
St. Peter's Square
We got into St. Peter's around 7:20 in the morning, and it was gorgeous!  There were hardly any people there, and it was great to take it all in.  

Stop #2
St. Peter's Basilica Dome Climb
550 stairs....a tiring way to start off the day!  However, it was so fun--I loved seeing the inside of the basilica from the top.  The passages got narrower and we finally reached the top.  The views were AMAZING.  It felt like we were on top of Rome.  We had the top mostly to ourselves and we had such a nice time together.  There is nothing like being on top of a dome. 

Stop #3
Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel
We really wanted to get to the museum before the crowds got too bad.  We walked a little longer in the basilica, and than ran to the museum.  Luckily, we had our online reservations so we were able to bypass the huge long line.  If you ever go, GET YOUR RESERVATION BEFORE HAND.  Seriously, the lines are crazy.  We ran through the museum to get to the chapel before it got too crowded.  Unfortunately, it still was, but it was fine.  The chapel was so different than I thought!  The room was very dark and a little on the small side.  The art, however, was incredible.  We listened to another Rick Steve's audio tour and we took it all in.  At first, it seemed a little overwhelming, but in little pieces were able to really enjoy it.  
Since we had skipped so much of the museum, we ended up going through it all again.  It was okay, but there were SO many people!  The Raphael Room was cool---I loved seeing "The School of Athens" in real life.  

Stop #4 
St. Peter's Basilica
By the time we got back to the basilica, I was already really tired and quite sick of all the crowds.  Something I didn't expect in Europe was how many people PUSH.  Man, that was frustrating.  Anyway, the basilica was awesome.  We listened to a tour, and it was fun to learn more about the building. I loved learning more about the Catholic church.  

For future travelers:
we totally recommend getting to the Basilica @ 7 a.m. and doing the tour of the basilica then, doing the dome climb afterwards and then getting to the museum around 8:30 and leaving after that.  Unless you really really love crowds. :)

Stop #5 
The Borghese Gardens
These were really fun!  Lots of green space, trees and pathways.  We rented a row boat and rowed in the lake with ducks and turtles.  It was really fun.  It was nice to relax for a bit here.

Stop #6
Dinner @ a nice Italian Restaurant
WE found a cute restaurant near the Pantheon.  We found a lot of good food around her and the Trevi fountain.  This was our 'nice' restaurant.  They set the mood for us, flowers, white table cloth etc.  We embarrassed ourselves by ordering the 'assorted cheese' for an appetizer, which we later found it is used for after the meal to cleanse the palate.  Ha--our waiter thought we were crazy as he brought us 4 huge cheese chunks.  But the rest of our meal was delicious!

Stop #7
Pantheon + Church of Mary Magdalene at Night
This area was gorgeous at night!  The church was beautiful! It had art from Michelangelo and Bernini.  The organ was playing and it was lovely.  We ate gelato and made a slow walk home.  Rome was truly delightful.  We were so lucky to have such great weather, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. 

At a Pinocchio store---for some reason we totally forgot he was Italian.